The beauty of science is that hypotheses drive thinking: Prof Noakes talks on emerging COVID-19 Research

Recently, CCFM 107.5 / 96.7 invited Prof Tim Noakes to discuss illness-prevention strategies in light of the Novel Coronavirus pandemic. During the interview, Prof Noakes focused on how to prevent diabetes and obesity, two major risk factors for COVID-19. Prof Noakes also mentioned a hypothesis relating to why the oxygen transport system fails in patients with COVID-19, which elicited an extreme response. On Wednesday morning, Prof Noakes spoke to Kieno Kammies from CapeTalk 567AM to elaborate on his previous interview and the hypothesis he mentioned. 

There is something else going wrong in the case of COVID-19. “We don’t know what it is and I am suggesting one other possibility and treatment,” Prof Noakes said. “The world’s leader in infectious diseases published a paper referring to this two days ago, with 1 050 patients as a sample. If we continue to ventilate people who should not be ventilated, we may be harming them. Mechanical ventilation may be doing harm and we need to consider this. In the long term, you need to look after your own health.”

Prof Noakes is challenging and inspiring new ways of looking at health and disease, something for which he is known and respected, with a proven track record in his career. There are different possible treatments for different patients and we need to manage this and actively explore alternatives at the moment. 

Prof Noakes continued: “The beauty of science is that hypotheses drive thinking … What worries me is that we are closing down discussions on this important topic and censoring novel possible treatments.”

We would like to accentuate that The Noakes Foundation supports COVID-19 prevention and control guidelines and we are grateful to all the researchers and frontline workers who are working hard on finding a suitable treatment for this novel virus. The Noakes Foundation supports all the evidence-based emerging research and acknowledges that there is still a lot that is unknown regarding COVID-19. However, we encourage critical thinking and new hypotheses in the quest of curbing the virus. 

COVID-19 appears to be similar to many other illnesses in that people with diabetes tend to have worse outcomes than people without diabetes. Based on early data from China, diabetes and other chronic diseases appear to be a risk factor for more severe lung complications and unsuccessful treatment of COVID-19. It is highly probable that the red blood cells are affected. 

During his interview on CCFM, Prof Noakes mentioned that  “people with type 2 diabetes have abnormal red blood cells, and I’m a type 2 diabetic. The way we measure how bad our diabetes is, is we measure how damaged our red blood cells are … Those red blood cells are absolutely sensitive to the virus. This virus attacks people with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes or insulin resistance. So if you want to protect yourself in the long term, you’ve got to make sure that your metabolic health is good, that you’re not overweight and that you don’t have type 2 diabetes,” Another study included 1 099 patients with confirmed COVID-19, of whom 173 had severe disease with comorbidities of hypertension (23.7%), diabetes mellitus (16.2%), coronary heart diseases (5.8%), and cerebrovascular disease (2.3%). 

Other chronic diseases mentioned as high risk for severe disease were chronic renal failure, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and, of course, chronic obstructive airways disease (COPD). 

In conclusion, Prof Noakes stressed:“My intention was to give people hope … All of us should try to be healthier, metabolically healthier. I would like that message to get out … I’m a scientist, and scientists like to get all of the information out, including the controversial stuff … Keep your eyes open and read.” 

The Noakes Foundation is always looking for ways to share information and to create awareness with regards to health and nutrition. With this in mind we would like to share the following article by Dr Hassina Kajee – Carb Free MD (Board of Directors: The Noakes Foundation, Medical Consultant: Eat Better South Africa and Medical Director: Nutrition Network) in which she outlines some nutritional tips to stay healthy in the time of COVID-19.  

Read the full article here:

We would also like to extend our immense gratitude and respect to all healthcare workers, researchers and individuals affected by this disease. 


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